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Cruising Independence
  • Writer's pictureRick D.

Exploring Ecuador - Part One, Oct 10th - 22nd

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

We had no idea the national bus and cab strike would last two weeks, leaving us stranded in Bahia de Carquez, Ecuador. Once a thriving seaside resort town, now is a sleepy fishing and shrimp farming village struggling to recover after the 2015 earthquake. It would have been easy to sit back and have another beer at the comfortable Puerto Amistad bar, but our New England work ethic kicked in and we started some boat projects to get a start on next season.

With the help of the marina staff we sanded all of the cockpit teak to wood and gave it 6 new coats of varnish. We also touched up all the toe rail and rub rail varnish as needed. We then removed the crew quarters door for rebuilding… it had a slight altercation with Rick’s butt during some seriously rough weather approaching Panama. (The door lost... Rick was OK). The marina woodworker understood our need but offered a suggestion – “come see what we have in our storeroom” he said. Lo and behold there were THREE solid teak raised paneled doors with solid brass hardware that had been scavenged off an abandoned sailboat that had subsequently sunk near the marine police dock. With a little fitting they replaced our simple thin double panel doors and really spruced up the interior! They also supplied and cut the wood that Rick will use to rebuild the dinette table base – which lost to a serious hip check from Candy!

We had met some US ex-pats (Ron and Cynthia Newell) in the supermarket that had circumnavigated and settled in Canoa, the next town over. The had invited us over to see their compound “Camp Coco” but the bus strike had prevented us from traveling very far. Out of frustration we pulled out the Schwinn folding bikes and peddled the 28 kilometers to their place. After dinner and drinks at a nearby tiki bar restaurant and a stop at an ex-pat bar with 30 or so playing 1960s and 70s US entertainment trivia, we were invited to stay in their guest cottage. We loved what they have created – a getaway compound with main house, studio, outdoor covered patio with BBQ and galley, guest cottage, garage / man cave and beautiful beachfront on the Pacific Ocean - truly a wonderful place to live! The ride back was ok, but Rick really wants a wide body gel seat for the bike!!

We re-connected with Ray and Bernie from Whisper, whom we met back in Shelter Bay Panama and had supper with them at another ex-pat sports bar and grill, Henry’s “H Sports Bar”. Henry holds a “boot Camp” workout every morning and Candy attended a few times, often needing a day to recover. With mostly younger folks, they exercise, stretch and often run up the stairs to the cross on the top of the mountain… five times.

Oct 19th – our exploration of interior Ecuador begins! We boarded a Raina cross country bus on an 8 hour ride through mountain switchbacks and the lush countryside of Ecuador on our way to Quito. The scenery included shrimp farms and hundreds of small restaurants, many with hige pigs hanging out front or large rotisseries of Guinea pig (a delicacy, so they say)… We arrived at our small hotel and headed out to a recommended restaurant that served excellent Ecuadorian cuisine. We even got to try the traditional drink “Colada Morada”, a thick liquid prepared with fruits, spices and corn flower. We were able to visit many museums and churches, a basillica, and took a trolley bus tour of the old town which included a trip up the hill to the huge aluminum statue of the Virgin Mary which overlooks the city.

With the end of the general country strike we were not surprised to see razor wire and heavily armed guards around the presidential residence. We toured the artisanal area “La Ronda” and saw some young “old world” craftsmen who worked in wood and metal – the very craftsmen who restore the beautiful carvings in the cathedrals! Amazing workmanship.

We sought out a solar panel distributor and were able to order three new solar panels which will significantly add to our solar electricity production on the boat – at incredible prices!! When told tht the shipping would “be very expensive”, we gritted our teeth and inquired how much… It was $30.00. More Amazing!

Another Ecuador Hop Bus adventure took us to our Cotopaxi volcano hike and tour. We learned much about the area and marveled at the moonlike landscape until our bus could no longer make progress in the volcanic sand on the road… time to hike! We had started at 10,000 feet, took the bus to about 14,500 feet and had to hike to the refuge at 15,953 feet! Our lungs were exploding, even though we had been in Quito for some days to acclimate – it felt that every huge breath you took only gave you 30% of what your body screamed for… The volcano crater was some 3000 feet (a 6 hours trek) above us and covered with glacier snow, so the refuge was all we could manage. Coming down was signifigantly easier!

Our final trip in the area took us to Quiotoa and a lake inside the rim of another volcano, unfortunately rain prevented us from hiking down, but the view and landscape was awsome.

Next… off to Banos and Cuenca, a 6 hour stay in Guayaquil and a 28 hour bus ride to Lima Peru!

An H Bar Gigundo Burger!

Independence safe on her mooring
National Transportation Strike
"KARL" from the White Spot Pirates YouTube series is a neighbor

Interesting wooden bodies on trucks and bikes!

Working on the new doors - now they just need some satin varnish!

Plaining down the doors

Folding bikes down to the dinghy

Henry's early morning "Boot Camp"
More of Henry's early morning "Boot Camp"
Staircase up the mountain to the Cross
On the bus to Quito with the boat in the background
After an eight hour bus ride we made it to Quito, Ecuador!
We fit right in! In a museum dodging the rain....
Quito skyline

Presidential Palace with Razor Wire
Street performer juggling on a tightrope he stretches across the street at every red light!

Beautiful Church in Quito

We met the craftsman who reconstructs the wood carvings in the churches - amazing work!

Interesting artwork hanging in an office building

The aluminum statue of the Virgin of Quito

Our guide up the Cotopaxi volcano
We made it ! 15,953 feet!!

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